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Vitamin C Overdose

Vitamin C

Picture from Ramblings of a Beauty Bird Site

I recently got sick with the flu and was absent from work for a couple of days. My doctor recommended that I should gulp down as much Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) as I could to strengthen my immune system, rather than taking some medication that only relieves the symptoms of the sickness.

It’s common knowledge that Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient. Meaning, in excess amounts it just exits the body via your urine. So no worries for me. I bought a dozen 500 mg Vitamin C tablets and a big can of Pineapple juice, with the intent of taking in the said vitamin three times a day (it was prescribed) and chugging down the 1.5 liter juice along the day.

This went on for a few days, with the pineapple juice being replaced by Kalamansi juice (it was extremely cheaper) spiked with a teaspoon of natural honey. And so I got better.

However, I woke up at 4 AM due to a severe stomachache, after which I had a short bout of diarrhea until sunrise. After a quick research, I discovered that Vitamin C does have an overdose level, and it could be deadly on rare occasions.

To avoid turning this write-up into a geeky science article, I’ll explain it as simple as possible.

Yes, Vitamin C is water soluble, and yes, it simply exits our bodies if in excess. What matters is, what the excess Vitamin C does inside our bodies before it’s flushed out. The daily recommended for non-sick individuals is 90 mg per day, while the maximum tolerable dosage of Ascorbic Acid in the medical community is 2,000 mg, so I was bordering with my 1,500 mg during that time.

To cut the long story short, a high dosage of Vitamin C could cause diarrhea, and really high dosages could lead to kidney stones (not yet generally established, but some studies have linked it).

Well, I’m not instilling paranoia on people. In fact, I highly recommend that all people should include Vitamin C in their daily diet, with a higher dose during sickness. All I’m telling you is just be aware of the possible upset stomach side effects.

All animals except for humans and a few chimpanzees and fish don’t make Ascorbate (anion of Ascorbic Acid) on their own, which makes us dependent on this drug, er, vitamin. Anyway, moderate amounts of Ascorbic Acid is extremely beneficial due to its anti-oxidant and immune system-boosting properties.

In closing, the moral for the day is: anything in excess is bad, even good ole’ Vitamin C. I learned that with straining difficulty while contemplating in the comfort room. This is in a sense, a diary diarrhea story, harhar.
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